Current Child Count

  • HOGAR DE AMOR I: 11 babies
  • HOGAR DE AMOR II: 6 boys
  • HOGAR DE AMOR III: 8 girls

Monday, July 26, 2010


This is what we're up to this week...

{ orientation }

First Baptist Church McKinney "Bolivia All-Out" Youth Mission Trip!

Back online later...

Friday, July 23, 2010

house change

Even though last month's adoption was more difficult than usual, we quickly saw God's hand in it in at least one way. The very same Friday that JK & E left with their new parents, we were asked by Child Defense to take in three babies from the street. Because of the location they mentioned, I knew immediately which three they were referring to. Praying through it half a day before we had to give our answer, I made the complicated decision to bring them to our home even though it will greatly complicate my relationship with their parents. We asked for a week to prepare ourselves.

To create space, we decided to pursue a potential transfer of the three siblings (also arrived from the street last year) from the Baby Home to Casa de Amor II since there were now "just" 9 there. This is something I've always said we would never do for these special three, but in all honesty that might have come from not bearing the thought of not living with them. (Can you see I have a lot of favorites? But seriously, these three are ALWAYS favorites!)

Our visits went so well and the kids were so extremely excited to be moving up to the "big kid home", we continued with plans and a week later they also moved over.

Now as God would have it, on that same day He took home one of the babies due to come to us. She couldn't survive life on the streets just one more night to come to us. Authorities regrouped on the raid and we still await news. Yesterday we were contacted and asked to prepare space for FIVE. I am on pins and needles to know who and when and from where. It's torturous to be involved in the background in taking away babies, a part I really hate. I also don't want to be anywhere near them when the police arrive. But after seeing how quickly we lost baby M, at barely two months of age, I also can't find it in me to oppose the move if the parents refuse to leave the streets permanently, particularly during this harsh winter.

Anyway, I could go on and on but that is already a long winded introduction to just say: siblings S (almost 6 years), A (4 1/2) and D (2 1/2) now live at Casa de Amor II!

We could barely get them to stand still for one minute to take a farewell picture at the gate of the Baby Home

There was some sticker decorating going on in the backseat on our way!

A checking out his new bed. Scary new roommate, eh? (Another "little boy A"!)

The girls wasted no time in getting down to business. Doll and chat time!! The CDA II girls were tripping over themselves to give a little gift to the new ones.

Please pray for all the children and CDA II staff (like amazing volunteer Elena!) during this transition time. And don't leave out me and our staff here, especially volunteer Savannah, as we adjust to losing our oldest two and just three beautiful stars from our children here in the Baby Home.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

a family formed

Last month we had a very "surprise" adoption. You wouldn't think it would come as a surprise when it takes 1-2 years to get the kids anywhere close to being adoption ready, and often up to a year or more for the new parents to arrive, but this case was a bit out of the ordinary.

These two adorable children...

arrived just last year. And quickly became favorites with everyone! You can read about her arrival here and his here.

I had a special attachment with E ever since the first night when I brought her to my bed because she seemed to be the sickest and frailest. I actually first "met" her when her mother was pregnant with her on the street, wanting to send JK to Casa de Amor.

Now it wasn't all peaches and ice cream, if you look through February and March 2009 blog posts, like this one. But we had fallen in love and all was bearable.

Of the 21 adoptions we have had, I have never been as opposed to an adoption in my heart as I was this time. Of course in my head, I knew it was better for them to have a family, even if I wanted to be that family, but my heart wasn't understanding.

We got the news on a Monday evening.

Tuesday at midday the Bolivian couple arrived to meet Jk and E.

On Friday afternoon the children left, just in time before a month long court vacation.

Rarely does an adoption week even go that fast. Elena (their house mom) and I cried! It was a whirlwind and there was no time to prepare ourselves emotionally or mentally, or even properly prep the kids.

Even so, they adapted remarkably well. That at least gave us a bit of peace in our hearts. They will be doted on by a very well-to-do upstanding couple.

A few pictures of the adoption week:

Specialists in cheesy smiles, what can I say! Waiting anxiously to meet their new parents.

First moments chatting together

Eating all sorts of snacks (their lawyer and Elena looking on)

Emotional goodbyes at Casa de Amor II

Little E climbing into my car, embarking on a new chapter of life. I love how she clung to the picture Elena gave her, of Elena and me

A post-hearing picture outside court. We all look a little harried - maybe the stress and also hour long wait with two active children beforehand!

Our social worker has traveled to visit and brought back wonderful pictures of glowing faces. It seems they are already thriving as a new family!

Please pray for me this next week as I work with another street mother and other institutions coordinating in a very complicated situation. She is asking a lot of questions about adoption, which in this case seems the only good option, but mothers here rarely make a decision for an adoption as long as it's in their hands. Still, we don't want what's coming up to be overly traumatic for her or her children. Thank you!

Monday, July 19, 2010


Every year I say this, but… “I can’t believe I’ve lived here SIX YEARS!” I wouldn’t trade the time for anything in the world. There have been moments when I would trade it for having a more “normal” life, such as starting a family of my own, but overall it’s been a greater joy, privilege, honor, and ADVENTURE than I ever could have imagined six years ago.

With Elena, my faithful sidekick :)

This morning I re-read what I wrote last year. Basically I said it all there and it all still stands. I also realized that I wrote a lot better back then, which is a little concerning... Maybe functioning in Spanish most of the time is affecting my English as much as my family always swears, ha!

The crew: Brianna, Megan, Shekkinah, Hannah, Brittany, Micaela, Elena

It just so happened that last night we had a Casa de Amor full time/part time volunteer outing to our favorite restaurant. Since I get out so little these evenings apart from street work, it was special to fall on the eve of my "anniversary". Afterwards Elena suggested ice cream to celebrate. So on one of the coldest nights of the year (school has even been canceled for three days due to the cold wave), we ate ice cream outside. Fun times!

Thanks to everyone (you know who you are!) who has supported me during these intense, emotional, incredible years living and serving in Bolivia. The fruit is yours as well.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


The other day I couldn't resist a picture or two of the naptime girl at Casa de Amor II who wasn't interested in sleeping... decorated her wall instead...

....and spent the rest of naptime scrub, scrub, scrubbing!

If I had time, the pictures I could show you through the years of naptime mischievousness... :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy 5 Months!

A little peak at the trips, who made their surprising entry into the world five months ago today...

Here's a triplet:

There's a triplet:

And.......where's the triplet?!

Hanging out in the kitchen with her momma!

Odd to post pictures of them separately, but they are just so independent now!

weather update :)

So this morning, we awoke to this image in Cochabamba....

A rare dry season SNOW on the mountaintops!

That should help with the water issues.

Your righteousness is like the great mountains;
Your judgments are a great deep;
O LORD, You preserve man and beast.
Psalm 36:6

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Do all things without complaining... Philippians 2:14

As all my Northern Hemisphere friends sweat through summer, here’s a little post to cool you off…

We’re in the depths of winter right now in Cochabamba, a winter that is predicted to last longer than usual.

Now some, like friends currently visiting Cochabamba from Iowa, might laugh, but I’m Texan through and through. Any temperature below 70 degrees F is chilly to me, much less that we don't really dress properly for winter and there's no heating here. During Bolivian winters (approximately May - August) I relish the delicious sun that warms us up by afternoon, usually to the long as you're not in the shade! Due to the "hard construction" style here, you can shiver inside all day long.

But I have to say that this time around, my 7th winter in Bolivia, I’ve seen the season in a whole new light, thanks to my street friends. I've been awed how they never complain about the cold! Just now, as temperatures hover right at freezing all night, two or three have finally made little comments. And it’s not even in a complaining sort of way, but rather just making a statement. Yesterday I realized that my best friend in the most hardcore, feared street group had slept up on their breezy hill in shorts and a t-shirt. With one blanket. And that he had a horrible hacking cough. And yet he simply said “It’s a little cold right now, isn’t it senorita? I think I’m getting a cough”, as if he was surprised.

When I wake up early shivering and see that it’s 50 something degrees in my room, by far the coldest in our large house, my first thought in years past was something along the lines of “woe is me, winter with no central heating”. This year my first thoughts are oh dear, it’s at least 20 degrees colder where all my friends are sleeping. By rivers. Under bridges. In doorways. On concrete courts. On a breezy hill.

But I'm learning something. By not verbally protesting about the cold (and normally I’m very grumbly about it), it really, honestly, is not bothering me much.

The street kids, driving home a Biblical principle—I love it!!

So just as I’m getting proud of this fact, that either I’m toughening up or God is giving me special grace this year, as I’m usually out till midnight on the street…..we lose water.

Let me explain. For the past couple weeks, I’ve heard different people mention not having water in their houses, and the street kids have had to haul water out of the river for a while now to wash cars up at their intersection. I wasn’t paying much attention until this week at the Baby Home, we’ve had irregular water supply. This morning I woke up, and even though they were supposed to send water today, we’ve run our tank dry over the course of the week washing out diapers and cooking and such……and I needed to wash my hair. Preparing for the possibility of no water, I had brought in the bottle of water from my car that the street kids use. Only that any water left in my room overnight is more or less the temperature of melted ice cubes by morning. And my bathroom isn’t any warmer! As I quickly took an icy cold "bath", I had to wonder if God was grinning. (Really, honestly, I wasn’t going to complain about the cold this year, but now THIS Lord?!)

Let’s just say I’ve repented on being so grateful for a very light rainy season earlier this year! And they say the water shortage will endure till the next rainy season kicks in, approximately December. Let it rain!!

I actually have good reasons for not posting till now, including the trauma of burying a baby on the street last week who was supposed to arrive to our (relatively warmer) Baby Home possibly the same day. She was just two months old and died from a complication of illness and the harsh temperatures. Until I have time for a proper post, here's a new post on the volunteer blog that you might enjoy!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Seeing as the trips are big (12 pounds!), healthy, and nearing five months, I talked with staff yesterday and......

they are now FREED!

Until now they've pretty much just been stuck in their room, to protect them from viruses that might be floating around the house, with just an occasional outing to the doctor or church...or to the office or my room. :)

But we've decided that it's time to get them out and about, for their development and contentment.

This morning, this is how it went:

Allison was the first to rather loudly remind us of her presence (what a shocker!), so came upstairs with me to be my charming little office assistant...

...And the two Ns went downstairs to learn the fine art of cooking lunch for many children and many staff members

Exhausting work, gotta tell ya!

Triplets - liberated! :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy Anniversary x 2

On July 4, I celebrated not one but two anniversaries.

Anniversary #1

For days my street friends have been asking me "What are we going to do for your anniversary?" Half the time I'd have to remember they are not talking about a wedding anniversary (hehe), but my country's birthday! One of the girls at the bridge spent several years living in a home financed from the US and she has fond memories of their July 4th celebrations.

So I spent all weekend gathering ingredients then making three completely homemade apple pies! Last year I had a hankering for apple pie but our twin boys arrived on July 3rd and the pies never came to be. This year I took them to the bridge to be devoured there at the intersection. Hannah probably felt funny, but the street is like my second home these days, so I ate as calmly as if in my kitchen. :)

The kids were so excited about "my anniversary" we did something special and went for a professional? picture. There's this place near the market and bus station that is so cheesy to us, but it sure floats the boats of those who flood in from the countryside on Sundays to hang out there. We joined the crowds, who stopped whatever they were doing to gawk at us, and made a couple memorable photos:

The kids were so sweet in the efforts they made to make "my anniversary" special and volunteer Hannah said it was also a particularly memorable 4th of July celebration!

Anniversary #2

On July 4, 2006, we opened the doors to Casa de Amor II! This evening while chilling with a few of the kids, I recalled with a caregiver the first four...then eight...then ten and so on...children to call CDA II home.

In the evening I took over three siblings to visit, as they will move there this week due to their age and....well, more news soon! One of the kids made the picture below, as I chilled for the first time that day with some cute kiddos.

Happy Anniversary, Casa de Amor II!!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Happy July 4th Birthday Announcement!

Here at Casa de Amor, we have a little message for my sister Heather, turning 25 today!

You can read the news too, if you'd like...

Hi, Heather!

(Heather Nicole Thompson, ahem.)

Hope you've been having a great birthday and July 4th!!

So, you know how the triplets arrived with provisional names?

A little review...

Triplet #3 is Nataly, after the triplet's Bolivian godmother

Triplet #2 was named Victoria. The triplet's mother asked volunteer Savannah to change her name, and Savannah chose Allison, after her sister.

Triplet #1 was named Valentina. The triplet's mother asked me to change her name, and after some deliberation and her acceptance, I chose......


Nicole, Allison, Nataly!

And we started using their new names TODAY.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY from your sister and (some of) her babies!

PS - Seeing as the acronym of their names now spells out NAN, I expect to receive some sort of modeling or marketing contract from their favorite formula soon! Just watch for those checks to arrive. :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

roll over, roll over

Now we're not usually into crib sharing around here, but there have been some memorable - and cute - exceptions....

The twin boys chilling during naptime

Our first multiples a few days after arriving

The triplet girls, of course!

The "baby twins" as we called them at the time

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Beautiful Birthday Girl

Last week this beautiful little girly turned THREE!

We specialize in gigantic cakes here at Casa de Amor :)

Little too much sugar perhaps??

Just what every girl wants - a new cell phone!

Could she be any cuter?!

Cute fellow party guest

Many thanks to the Orphan World Relief team for taking these pictures for me! I got stuck in the office and missed the party.

Remembering former birthdays:

First Birthday!

Second Birthday!

To read more about "Eliana's" story, click here.

Although her abandonment papers have moved along very slowly, she is finally reaching the point of being assigned a loving family!